Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Faculty and Workshops


is an associate editor at Katherine Tegen Books (HarperCollins). She edits a range of middle grade and YA titles by authors like Corey Ann Haydu, Terra Elan McVoy, Kali Wallace, and Brittany Cavallaro. She is always on the lookout for fresh, authentic voices, smart humor, diverse characters, and evocative settings. You can find her on Twitter (@alexyarnold) or on Tumblr.




Your novel needs a compelling plot, winning characters, and an emotional through line to pull in your readers. This editor would argue that the key to all of these elements circles back to one important component of craft: creating high stakes. We’ll talk about defining your stakes, making them bigger, and most importantly, making them personal—and wrap up with an exercise to guide your current WIP.




is the bestselling author of more than 70 books for children and young adults, including the “enduring Canadian Christmas classic” A Porcupine in a Pine Tree, and the giggle-inducing Ode to Underwear. A multi-time winner of the Silver Birch Award and a two-time winner of the Lane Anderson Award for Science Writing for Children, Helaine received the Sydney Taylor Notable Book award for Gottika and has had her two most recent science/nonfiction titles recognized by the Junior Library Guild. Helaine also writes for children’s television, and is in high demand as a performer at schools and festivals across North America. Her latest books include the middle-grade novel Dirk Daring: Let Sleeping Dogs Lie (Orca Books), Worms for Breakfast (Owlkids), and Top Secret (Scholastic Canada).

Helaine volunteers for several literacy organizations and charities, including First Book, ABC Literacy, CODE, and Librarians without Borders. She is also a certified pyrotechnician, so expect fireworks at any time.



Essential skills you will need to make your venture a success.



(AAR and SCBWI member) has been a literary agent in New York City since 1992. In August 2000, she founded Dunham Literary, Inc. Her clients have been New York Times bestsellers and have won awards such as the Boston Globe Horn Book Honor, the New York Times Best Illustrated Book of the Year, the Charlotte Zolotow Award, and the International Reading Association Award. Her agency represents children's books for all ages, from novelty and picture book through middle grade and young adult, as well as literary fiction and non-fiction for adults.


Jennie will walk workshop participants through the language of publishing — defining certain words to help writers and illustrators understand what editors and agents are saying in revision and rejection letters. In other words — what industry jargon do you need to know in order to interpret what publishing professionals mean?



was born in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. She grew up in a large military family and has lived in various cities in Ontario, British Columbia, Nova Scotia, and Germany. Alma struggled with reading and instead memorized most things until the age of nine when, with the help of her grade four teacher, she realized she had dyslexia. By grade nine, Alma had come to love reading. She now lives in Ontario with her husband and two daughters.

Alma is published in both novels and picture books, as well as in illustration. Her books have won or been nominated for over two dozen awards, including the Governor General finalist 2008, TD Canadian Children's Literature Award finalist 2009 and 2011, Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Award 2009, CLA Children's Book of the Year Honor Book 2009 and 2011, Golden Oak Award 2009, Once Upon a World Children's Book Award 2009, Manitoba Young Readers' Choice Award shortlist 2010, Silver Birch Award shortlist 2010, Bank Street College Best Children's Books 2009 and 2014, Blue Spruce Award 2014 and 2016, and Kentucky Bluegrass Award 2015.


Alma Fullerton will take you through the process of revising your own picture books. Learn the ways to leave out what the illustrations will tell, without cutting the core of your picture book stories. Bring your own picture books to work on.




Editor, Farrar, Straus, Giroux Books for Young Readers/Macmillan. Grace works on a wide range of material, from picture books to young-adult novels, both fiction and nonfiction. Since joining FSG in the spring of 2014, Grace has acquired exciting projects from debut authors, seasoned veterans, and award-winners, including Gertie’s Leap to Greatness by lauded debut novelist Kate Beasley, which features illustrations from Caldecott Honoree Jillian Tamaki; Mama Africa! by National Book Award winner Kathryn Erskine; Gifts for Abuela by critically acclaimed author Mitali Perkins; and Tito the Bonecrusher by Melissa Thomson. Grace has also acquired two series projects: the Lou Lou and Pea middle-grade series by Jill Diamond and the Jasmine Toguchi chapter books by Debbi Michiko Florence. Previous to FSG, Grace worked at Scholastic for seven years, where she worked mainly on picture books, including Hot Rod Hamster: Monster Truck Mania! by Newbery Honor author Cynthia Lord and New York Times bestselling illustrator Derek Anderson, and Eight Days: A Story of Haiti by Edwidge Danticat and illustrated by Alix Delinois, which was published to national media acclaim. When reviewing a manuscript, she looks for glittering humor, well-drawn characters, settings that almost speak for themselves, and a narrative that is rich with emotional, ethical, and/or political concerns and that offers readers a new perspective on familiar themes. You can keep in touch with her on Twitter at @GraceKendallLit.

NOVEL WORKSHOP: It Takes a Village: Building Character Through Community (Character building)

PICTURE BOOK WORKSHOP: From Stand-Alone to Series: Creating the Character-Driven Picture Book (Character series)


Last-minute UPDATE: Unfortunately, Whitney Leader-Picone has had to withdraw, under doctor's orders not to travel. Happily, Chad W. Beckerman has generously agreed to join us, instead. His bio follows Whitney's on this page.


has been designing books for children for eight years. She currently works as a senior designer at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers. She works on all kinds of books, from board books through to young adult. She recently moved to HMH from Charlesbridge Publishing, where she was not only a designer, but also a digital publishing specialist. Whitney has a BA in liberal arts from Sarah Lawrence College and a Master’s in children's literature from the Center for the Study of Children's Literature at Simmons College. When looking for illustrators, Whitney likes someone versatile with strong drawing skills who can illustrate what's needed, even if a particular subject is not in their portfolio. Her ideal illustrator has developed a personal style that can be recognized in all their work. Each book requires a different style, but Whitney is drawn to the more quirky artists whose art is a little looser—an illustrator with a sense of humor.


Classic fairy tales have been told many times and, in many ways — from classic to modern. The illustration workshop will use Little Red Riding Hood in a workshop setting to focus on composition, how well the illustrations fit the version of the story being told, and what can be done to improve the illustrations. This workshop includes an optional, pre-conference assignment, based on Little Red Riding Hood. Participants will be asked to choose a version of the fairy tale (classic or modern), and illustrate one scene from the story. Full pre-conference assignment details will be provided upon registration.


is an award-winning designer and creative director at Abrams, where he oversees the design of picture books, novels, and graphic novels under the Abrams Appleseed, Abrams Books for Young Readers, Amulet Books, and Abrams ComicArts imprints. He is the designer behind such successful series as Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Origami Yoda, N.E.R.D.S., Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales, Frank Einstein, and The Terrible Two. He has been a judge for several illustration competitions, including the Society of Illustrators’ Annual 53; Communication Arts’ Annual 54 (Illustration): 2013; American Illustration 32; 2014 SCBWI New York Show (illustration judge); and the New York Book Show, 2104. Chad studied illustration at the Rhode Island School of Design. Follow him @chadwbecks on Instagram and Twitter.




is the illustrator of over 50 books, for 17 of which she is also the author. She has had the great pleasure of illustrating for authors such as Hazel Hutchins and Sharon Jennings. Ruth lives with her family in Toronto, Ontario, and is a graduate of the Ontario College of Art and Design. Ruth’s books have been shortlisted for awards such as the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book, Mr. Christie, Shining Willow, Rainforest of Reading, and Blue Spruce. They have been selected for the NYC Reads 365, the Pennsylvania Centre for the Book’s Baker’s Dozen, the Canadian Toy Testing Council’s Great Books, the Ontario Library Association’s Best Bets, the Canadian Children's Book Centre’s Best Books, and the Toronto Public Library’s First and Best. Some of Ruth's latest books include Kenta and the Big Wave (Annick Press), Fox and Squirrel Make a Friend (Scholastic Canada), and Spring 2016’s Scribble (Scholastic Canada).





is an executive editor at Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. He has edited a number of beloved and bestselling books, including What Does the Fox Say?, The Night Gardener, Red ButterflyWe All Looked Up, and The Death and Life of Zebulon Finch. Recent favorites include Thanks for the Trouble and Oh No, Astro!

Christian is also the author of the picture books Simon's New Bed and (Mimi and Shu in) I'll Race You! Learn more about him at


Simon & Schuster executive editor Christian Trimmer receives dozens of picture book submissions every month and rejects 99% of them. Learn what separated that 1% from the rest of the stack (it’s much more than just the writing). He’ll then take you through the editing process of one of the books that made it onto his list.





has written thirty-four books, including adult novels, picture books, short story anthologies, and middle-grade and young adult novels. His collection of short stories Some of the Kinder Planets won the Governor General’s Award as well as the Boston Globe Horn Book Award. His novel The Maestro won Tim his second Governor General's Award and was short-listed for the Guardian Prize in the U.K. The Boy in the Burning House won the Edgar Award and the Arthur Ellis Award and was also short-listed for the Guardian Prize. Blink & Caution won an “Arthur” as well as Tim’s second Horn Book Award. His work has been published in Japanese, Korean, Danish, Dutch, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Catalan, and Hebrew. Tim was named to the long list for the 2012 Hans Christian Andersen Award. In 2012, Tim was made an Officer of the Order of Canada. His newest novel, The Emperor of Any Place, came out last fall, and his new picture book, Secret Agent Man Goes Shopping for Shoes is coming out this spring.


When you write a first draft, it's an urgent business, in my experience. You're flying by the seat of your pants, driving in the dark, just getting the words down on paper. Then it's done, and the fun starts. I love revision! It's not dark anymore, you can see where you're going . . . well, sort of. And you have a way better sense of your destination. So here are ten questions to ask as you go. A kind of owner's manual in case the car breaks down en route. Bring your own works-in-progress. I'll bring mine. We'll all drive in convoy!